Ben Jonson: The Alchemist

(2883 words)
  • Chloe Kathleen Preedy (University of Exeter)

Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (1610) is often described by modern editors as one of his funniest plays, a claim that is supported by its enduring popularity with theatre audiences. The Alchemist had its London opening on 12 June 1610, and was so successful with seventeenth-century audiences that the original acting company, the King’s Men, continued to stage it at regular intervals until Parliament closed the theatres in 1642. For the next twenty years the only performances of The Alchemist were much-abbreviated short skits, but with the re-opening of the theatres in 1660 Jonson’s comedy made a triumphant return to the stage; in 1661, for instance, the diarist Samuel Pepys praised it as “a most i…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Preedy, Chloe Kathleen. "The Alchemist". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 April 2012
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. English Renaissance Theatre - Jacobean